This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
If it seems a bit strange to have to worry about traffic jams while going outdoors to enjoy the beauty and solitude a national park offers, then Memorial Day might be a good time to avoid Arches National Park.
After the Utah Highway Patrol had to shut down the entrance to Arches for two hours last year due to long lines of vehicles trying to get into Arches creating a massive traffic jam on U.S. Highway 191, the National Park Service is being more proactive this year.
According to Arches officials, Memorial Day weekend of 2015 saw record visitation, overflowing parking lots and long waits at entrance stations.
The same happened to the entrance at the Island in the Sky district of nearby Canyonlands.
Park officials are trying to make some changes for what is expected to be another busy Memorial Day weekend this year.
They recommend that visitors avoid entering the parks between 9 a.m. and noon, when wait times may exceed an hour.
Highway officials will not allow left turns into Arches for southbound traffic on U.S. 191. Vehicles traveling south will need to pass the Arches entrance road and follow signs showing where to turn around. Only northbound vehicles may enter the park.
Park officials are asking that vehicles rep pace with traffic in the line. Current pass holders and returning visitors should have passes and identification ready. Credit cards are preferred for buying new passes.
The park service said that if the parks reach capacity, vehicles may be restricted from entering until space becomes available.
To view the Arches National Park entrance, log on to webcams at go.nps.gov/archwebcams. Visitors in Moab can tune radios to 1610 AM for information entering Arches National Park. Follow Arches or Canyonlands on Twitter to get updated conditions.
This isn't a problem only at Arches and Canyonlands. Judging from reports during spring break and the Easter holidays, similar situations happened at Zion and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
All of this seems like a big much for people on vacation "trying to get away from it all." It sounds as if Memorial Day might be a good time to avoid the more popular national and state parks all together, stay close to home for a barbecue and perhaps plan a trip at a less crowded time.